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Our Disappointments Are God’s Appointments (My Father’s Story)

DPFOur Disappointments Are God’s Appointments

That’s what God promises.

Think of Joseph.  He had disappointments — years in an Egyptian dungeon.  But that was God’s appointment to have him become ruler of Egypt under Pharaoh.

Think of Naomi.  She had disappointments — having to move to Moab, and while there seeing her husband and sons die.  But that was God’s appointment to have Ruth become her daughter-in-law who gave birth to a son whose lineage included David and Jesus Christ.

Think of the promise of Jeremiah 29:11 —

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

And Romans 8:28 —

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

Every disappointment in this life is appointed by God to bring us closer to him now, and bring us more joy in him forever.  That is the greatest good, and the focus of our hope.

But many disappointments are also appointed by God to bring us great good in this life.

My Father’s Story

Which brings me to my father’s story.  He served in the Navy during World War II, received a degree from Princeton Theological Seminary, and was ordained into the Gospel ministry.

Then in 1949 he was called to be the assistant pastor at Park Street Church in Boston, Massachusetts.

This was the talk of the Christian world, because his father was a famous radio evangelist who preached to millions of people every Sunday, and because Park Street Church was one of the best-known churches in the country.

So everyone was expecting great things from Charles Fuller’s son as he joined the staff of such an influential church.  And everyone eagerly awaited his first sermon.

Disappointment

The week before his first sermon he was busier than ever with typical pastoral work like leading youth meetings, organizing events, making hospital visits, developing curriculum, and of course preparing for the sermon.  At the end of the week he was exhausted.

In addition, he was living in an apartment which was noisy — so noisy that the night before he was to preach, he could not sleep.

Not only that, he was nervous — knowing the expectations, and feeling the pressure.

And so, when he walked up to the podium to begin preaching — he froze.  He could not speak.  He could not move.

Minutes went by.  No one knew what to do.

Finally, someone helped him off the stage, and he was taken out of the sanctuary.

And with that, his position at Park Street Church ended, and he flew home to California.  Disappointment.

God’s Appointment

He was devastated.  Filled with shame and embarrassment and guilt.

He ended up taking classes at the newly-started Fuller Theological Seminary.  He studied under Wilbur Smith, who  stirred his passion for studying God’s Word.  And he wrote his Master’s Thesis on the Gospel of Mark.

Then, a few months later, on a Tuesday night at 7 pm, he received a surprising phone call.  It was from the Dean of Faculty at the seminary.  He said the professor who was to teach the Gospel of Mark had experienced a heart-attack, and would not be able to fulfill his assignment.

He said my father’s thesis on Mark’s Gospel was excellent, and asked if my father could teach the class, starting the next day.  My father said he would.

So he started teaching.  At the beginning, some of the class sessions were rough.  But he kept working hard to see what Mark was saying in his gospel, and to help his students see Mark’s message for themselves.

And as he continued to teach, and to challenge his students to study Mark’s gospel, good things began to happen.

The students became excited about studying God’s Word for themselves.  They told him that their approach to Bible study was changing, and that the message of Mark was strengthening their faith and transforming their lives.

And at the end of the semester, at a banquet honoring the graduating class, two of the graduates took the unusual step of specially mentioning my father’s class as the high point of their seminary experience.

And my father was asked by the Dean to become a permanent professor at the seminary, where he taught for the next 40 years.

Our disappointments are God’s appointments.

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Category: Problems or Trials, Stories about Other People

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6 Responses

  1. Daniel Gallup says:

    Steve, I was very close to your father while at Fuller. Haven’t heard a word about him in years; know that I wish him well and think joyously of his contribution to my life.

    • Steve Fuller says:

      Hi Dan,

      It brings me great joy to hear from you. Thanks for taking the time to share your comment, and I will pass your message on to my father.

      And may the Lord richly bless you,

      Steve Fuller

  2. Brian says:

    Steve,

    It is awesome to see how the Lord uses us through the example of your family.
    Your father was given his gifts not because of his father but as the Lord wills. Similarly, you were given your gifts not because of your father but as the Lord wills. Though the gifts are similar yet they are different and each of you has displayed a similar desire to glorify Jesus by those gifts.
    Ephesians 4:11-12 And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ;
    I agree with the truth and wisdom of your father’s statement that our disappointments are God’s appointments. I am uncertain we will always see the reason as clearly as your father did. Further, I accept that sometimes we must trust that the grace of Jesus is sufficient to carry us, to hold us, to hold our “why?” until He is willing to give an answer.

    Thank you for introducing us to your father,

    Brian

  3. Cathy says:

    Steve,

    What a great post! About 2 years ago, I was denied a job in nursing that I thought that I really deserved. I had worked in the hospital for about 13 years, and they hired someone from another state. That was a big downer for me.

    Anyway, because of that, I finally took a part time job to be a clinical instructor. The college had been encouraging me to do that for several months, and the denial was the impetus that I needed to say yes. This was a big step of faith for me, because I never liked speaking to groups and always disliked public speaking.

    Anyway, at this point I am pursuing by Master’s Degree in Nursing Education! I feel that this has been God’s plan for me all along. I have always loved working with the nursing students. Tomorrow, I have a presentation at the university to my peers . . . I am trusting that if God wants me here and I put in the prep, he will get me through it. If anyone here wants to pray for me, that would be wonderful. So, Steve, your father’s story really resonated with me at a great time. Thank you!

    • Steve Fuller says:

      Hi Cathy,

      I am so glad this was encouraging to you. Thank you for taking the time to share you story, and letting me know. And praise God for his faithfulness in your life!

      In Christ,

      Steve Fuller

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